On Saturday's UFC on Fox 6 card, a clash of high-profile featherweights made waves on the FX prelims as Clay "the Carpenter" Guida took on Hatsu Hioki.
This was the first fight for Guida since making the move to 145 pounds last year. Prior to the drop, Guida came up short in very close fights against current lightweight champion Benson Henderson and longtime contender Gray Maynard.
For Hioki, this was an important first step on the path to redemption. In June, the Japanese star saw a title shot ripped from his grasp when he was upset by Ricardo Lamas.
When the split decision was read in favor of Guida, many were left scratching their heads.
In terms of damage and approaching a finish, there is no question that Hatsu Hioki was the better man. He dominated the standup portion of this fight and threatened while fighting from his back.
However, Guida scored a few takedowns and had more than eight total minutes of top position, but he was unable to capitalize on the advantage.
What we'll remember about this fight
The scoring debate between who should have won this fight.
What deserves to win fights? Control? Or superiority?
Guida was able to score takedowns, but Hioki was superior on the ground and neutralized all of Guida's attacks.
Another memorable moment came from the big slam from Guida that earned gasps from the audience. In a takedown that was similar to Frankie Edgar's slam of Gray Maynard, Guida lifted his foe into the air before dropping backward and slamming an inverted Hioki onto his head and shoulders.
On a side note, there is no question that I will remember this fight as "the time Clay Guida fought with a porn-star mustache."
What we learned about Clay Guida
That he is not worried about the submission prowess of his opponent. In the second round, this nearly cost Guida the fight, as Hioki came close to completing a kimura from guard.
Additionally, we witnessed a transition from the "fun Guida" to the "safe Guida" when he realized that Hioki was neutralizing his ground work and beating him in the standup. This was the first appearance of Clay's grinding style of attack since a 2011 fight with Anthony Pettis.
What we learned about Hatsu Hioki
That he will not be intimidated when facing a respected veteran like Guida. The Japanese star stood his ground and constantly pressed forward while landing powerful counterpunches that cleanly landed.
It may be surprising to some that Hioki was superior to his opponent in the standup exchanges.
Hioki used all of his five-inch reach advantage by keeping Guida at bay with body punches and short hooks during the standup encounters. Additionally, a near-submission came in Round 2, although Guida escaped the kimura attempt.
What's next for Clay Guida
Despite the debate regarding the validity of this win, Guida did just defeat a ranked opponent in the featherweight division.
"The Carpenter" will likely face either the winner of Ricardo Lamas vs. Erik Koch, which occurs on the main card, or Team Alpha Male's Chad Mendes.
What's next for Hatsu Hioki
This is the second consecutive loss for Hioki, although it's truly hard to look at him as a loser. The Japanese star was superior in the striking game and showed tremendous skill once the contest hit the floor.
If there is any justice in the UFC, Hioki will get a high-level opponent like Chad Mendes or the loser of Jose Aldo vs. Frankie Edgar.
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